US elections : A comedy of errors

"The end" cried a banner outside the US Supreme Court, the day the 9-member bench sealed the fate of Democrat candidate Albert Gore. A symbol of the 5-week long saga of the American struggle to elect a president. The placard was perhaps a more poignant symbol of the sloppiness of the whole affair and its even clumsier ending. Akrita Reyar examines.

By Akrita Reyar | Last Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 15:53 PM IST

"The end" cried a banner outside the US Supreme Court, the day the 9-member bench sealed the fate of Democrat candidate Albert Gore. A symbol of the 5-week long saga of the American struggle to elect a president. The placard was perhaps a more poignant symbol of the sloppiness of the whole affair and its even clumsier ending. Akrita Reyar examines. The Americans have, at last, elected a president. But then, just about. By the end of it all, there was more a feeling of fatigue and desire to end the uncertainty than the need for justice to prevail. United States of America, the torchbearer of the world, will have as a leader a man who has nearly 300,000 less popular votes than his opponent. It is also almost certain that had the disputed ballots of Florida been recounted, Gore would have emerged winner even through the electoral college system of electing president. Yet, George W Bush will be America’s 43rd President. And there`s hardly a ripple in the public. Television channels world over beamed vox pops of American citizens saying they were sorry for Gore but relieved that it was all over. Some were not even that sympathetic. Barring Rev Jesse Jackson, there was no other prominent American personality that egged Gore to fight on. Surprising still is that even senior Democrat leaders asked Gore to bow out after the SC verdict. But why? Imagine the storm such a condition would have created in India. Even the most reticent sections of public opinion would have described it as unfair. The US SC just accepted the inability of a reasonable recount within deadline and let it be. Surely, a more dynamic verdict was expected. Courts, around the world, are supposed to deliver justice and not get tangled in technicalities. What is frightening is that the verdict was delivered by the Supreme Court of the country that has arrogated the role of upholder of human rights, freedom and fairness. The country has in all world fora talked about democracy as means of knowing and respecting the verdict of the people. At home, in glaring world eye, it has done just the opposite. These indeed are the ironies of history. A solemn Gore, in his concession speech, said that he disagreed with the court`s decision but had yielded to patriotism over partisanship. It was a sad scene. On Monday, the electoral college meets to vote. Bush will take over as President on January 20. It will not be time for the nation to put behind the past but to dwell over it. It will have to come up with some difficult answers and device ways that such a situation is not repeated. But, the Vice President has had to pay a price for the lesson. The ring of injustice will not go away.